Susan Branson

Professor, History

Susan Branson

Contact Information

512 Eggers Hall
(315) 443-4144


Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, 1992


Early American women, early American society and culture, science and American society


Susan Branson’s training is in the social history of early America. The topics of her dissertation and first two monographs stem from her interest in gender roles and gender relations in American society during the early republic (spanning roughly the years between the 1780s and the 1830s). Her first book, These Fiery Frenchified Dames (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001) examines women’s changing public roles as they resulted from the social, cultural, and political forces at work in American society in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. Her second book, Dangerous to Know: Women, Class and Crime in the Early Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) investigates the intersection of crime, class, and gender in the early nineteenth century. Currently, Professor Branson is completing a book entitled Consuming Science in American Society, 1700-1860, which considers why certain sciences and technologies suited the interests and agendas of American society at crucial moments in the nation’s development. The monograph develops lines of inquiry emerging in historical scholarship regarding three inter-related topics: the promotion of scientific education and practices among non-elites, the place of science and technology in American culture, and the development of nationalism and national identity in the early republic and antebellum eras. Exploring the ways Americans chose to promote, celebrate, and characterize discoveries, inventions, and mammoth civic projects explains how Americans expressed a belief that the United States was a rising empire.  She places special emphasis on how material culture was integral to how people experienced, interacted with, and were introduced to science and technology – often in the guise of entertainment. Professor Branson teaches courses on women in early America, the American frontier, food in American society, and American science and technology.



 "These Fiery Frenchified Damese": Women, Politics, and Culture in Early National Philadelphia(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001).

Dangerous to Know: Women, Class and Crime in the Early Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).


“Sex, Scandal, Violence, and Other Middle-Class Pastimes in The History of the Celebrated Mrs. Ann Carson,” in Class and Class Struggles in Early North America and the Atlantic World, Simon Middleton and Billy G. Smith, editors. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

“From Daughters of Liberty to Women of the Republic: Women in the Era of the American Revolution” in Jay Kleinberg, Eileen Boris, and Vicki Ruiz, editors, The Practice of U.S. Women's History: Narratives, Intersections, and Dialogues, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007).

“Gendered Strategies for Success in the Early Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace: Mary Carr and the Ladies’ Tea Tray,” Journal of American Studies, 40, no.1 (April 2006): 35-51.

“An Outlaw and Her Ghost Writer: Enigmas of Female Celebrity in Early America,” Commonplace (April 2005).

"The Political Education of Elizabeth Drinker," Pennsylvania History Special Issue Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Publication of Elizabeth Drinker's Diary, Pennsylvania History, 68, no.4 (autumn 2001): 465-482.

"Etrangers dans un pays etrange: Saint-Domingan Refugees of Color in Philadelphia," (co-authored with Leslie Patrick) in David Geggus, editor, The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, (University of South Carolina Press, 2002).

"American Women and the French Revolution: Gender and Partisan Festive Culture in the Early Republic," (co-authored with Simon Newman) in William Pencak, editor, Riot and Revelry (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002).

"'He Swore His Life was in Danger From Me': The Attempted Kidnapping of
Governor Simon Snyder," Pennsylvania History, 67, no. 3 (summer 2000): 349-360.

"Women and the Family Economy in the Early Republic: The Case of Elizabeth Meredith" Journal of the Early Republic, 16, no.1 (spring 1996): 47-71. *Reprinted in Joseph M. Hawes and Elizabeth Nybakken, editors, American Families in Historical Perspective (University of Illinois Press, 2001).

"Beyond Respectability: The Female World of Love and Crime in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia," Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 25 (1996).

"A Working Woman: The Autobiography of Ann Baker Carson," (co-authored with Susan E. Klepp) in Life in Revolutionary Philadelphia: A Documentary History, edited by Billy G. Smith (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995).

"St. Domingan Refugees in the Philadelphia Community in the 1790s,"
in Amerindians, Africans, Americans: Three Papers in Caribbean History,
edited by Barry Higman (University of the West Indies Press, 1993).

Recent Papers

“History and Empire: Architectural Style and American National Ambitions, 1798-1848,” forEuropean Early American Studies Association biannual conference. University of Paris-Diderot, December 2010

“Egyptomania: American Fashion and Architecture in Transatlantic Context, 1798-1848” for Visual Arts and Global Trade in the Early American Republic conference. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, November, 2010

“Flora and Femininity: Gendered Scientific Practice in the Early Republic,” for British Group Early American History conference. Oxford University, September 2010

“Enlightened Women: Science Education in Eighteenth-Century America,” Society of Early Americanists, Hamilton, Bermuda, March 2009

“Jefferson’s Mammoth Cheese: Natural History and National Politics,” East-Central/American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Georgetown University, November, 2008

Teaching Appointments

Associate Professor, American History, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University: 2010-present
Associate Professor, American Studies, Syracuse University: 2005-2010
Associate Professor, Historical Studies, University of Texas at Dallas: 2003-2005
Assistant Professor, Historical Studies, University of Texas at Dallas: 1997-2003
Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Dallas: 1995-1997
Assistant Professor, Southwest Texas State University:1993-1996 (on leave 1995-1996)
Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Dallas: 1992-1993
Instructor, Southern Methodist University: 1992
Instructor, University of Texas at Dallas: Spring 1992

Research Interests

American social and cultural history, 18th and 19th century, science and American popular culture

Research Grants and Awards

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2005-2006
Alumna of the Year, History Department, Northern Illinois University, 2005
Chemical Heritage Foundation Travel Grant, 2002
Isaac Comly Martindale Fund fellowship, American Philosophical Society, 2001
Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia, 2000
Southwest Texas State University Summer Research Grant, 1994
Philadelphia Center (McNeil Center) for Early American Studies fellowship, 1990-1991

Recent Activities

Work in progress

Monograph: Consuming Science: Natural Philosophy in American Culture and Society, 1700-1860